I know I said I wasn’t going to judge any groups of moms for not being "Mom-Enough." I know I praise all the work of multi-tasking multi-efficient working moms and dads. And I know I stand by it. So I will only talk from the experience of myself – and my working mom friends – who saw a lot of themselves in the recent New Yorker article on spoiled kids.
For quick clarification, I don’t think my sons are spoiled. They have responsibilities. They work hard to get good grades. But I do think that as a working parent, I look for their approval, sometimes more than they look for mine (which is exactly what the article states we do as we "spoil" our kids). During my time with them, I strive to make it fun and limit the whines any way that I can, even if it means doing something they should be doing themselves.
A colleague of mine agrees. She has Fridays off with her 4-year old who has recently stopped napping. Usually, his nanny encourages "quiet time" and "independent play" during the 2-3 hour stretch of time when his little sister sleeps and he doesn’t. But on Fridays, he only wants to be with his Mom. He wants to read with her, cook with her, garden with her. Whatever she’s doing, he wants to be at her side. And what can she say? I can tell you it’s not No. Mom Guilt is strong and Working Mom Guilt could be stronger. But does it lead to a more spoiled child? I don’t think so.
Spoiling our kids with time spent with us is not spoiling them. Especially if that time is spent learning from us, working hard by our side, being responsible people with us.
I think there is something to the fact that we working parents want to make our time with our kids more pleasant, so we spend less time being drill sergeants and more time being peace makers (no, not Hunger Games style!). At the same time, our parenting styles still come into play. I’ve told you I’m an "Honest Parent." This means that while my kids and I might be bonding over cooking together or hitting balls at a batting cage, I’m not giving false praise. I’m giving them real feedback on what they need to work on.
So spoiled, yes. They have nice things. And when I’m home, they have my attention and affection. Spoiled rotten? No. There is a difference.
The key is to look at your kids – no matter what age – and determine if you like what you see. Are they respectful? Do they have responsibilities? Do they care about doing a good job? Do they work hard without you pushing them? Do you interrupt them and do it yourself? Do you reward them even if they did a bad job?
Stay at home parents, working parents: we are all working hard to create well-balanced, smart, kind kids. And from my experience, no matter what your job is, the kids will respect you more if you are honest with them. They like you more if they have to earn your love. Even if no matter what, in your eyes, they are the best work you’ve ever done.
What do you think: Are your kids spoiled? Do you worry your kids won’t like you if you are too mean? Do you think working mom guilt causes a more spoiled child?